EVE is a gerontocracy. That is, old people govern it. Well, no – because all major alliance CEOs are probably all under 50.  Old capsuleers govern EVE. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of when major power players were ‘born’:

  • UAxDEATH (2005) – DRF
  • The Mittani (2005) – Goonswarm Federation
  • Grath Telkin (2007) – Pandemic Legion
  • LadyScarlet (2004) – Northern Coalition.
  • Sapporo Jones (2007) – TEST
  • Gobbins (2006) – Pandemic Horde
  • Sort Dragon (2007) – Guardians of the Galaxy

This isn’t just an alliance leader thing. Senior FCs across blocs like Vily (2005) and Elise Randolph (2006) display the same pattern. It’s the same story with diplomats. The Judge, erstwhile of CO2, was playing since 2003. Dran Arcana, of TEST, is a newcomer – he was only ‘born’ in 2010.

Now, I want to make clear a few things. Firstly, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with players staying committed to a game. In fact, that’s a really good sign of a game’s health. Secondly, I am not saying that players should be entrusted with immense responsibility very swiftly. The reality of alts means that would be a spy paradise. Thirdly, I am not saying that exceptionally talented people can’t rise the ranks swiftly. It’s just that it’s quite tricky.

I do think, however, that this gerontocracy can present a problem. A new player joining the game with the hope that they might participate at a high level will find that that probably won’t happen. Unless they are uniquely talented, any recruiter can find longer lived players who are better. I don’t mean to criticise leadership for this. It’s an entirely rational response.

So, how can the situation be dealt with, without modifying game mechanics? Well, I think that there is one way it could be ameliorated.

That is establishing clear paths to power. If you want to be a general in the US Army, you know how to do that. A lieutenant can commission and plan a career. Obviously, not every lieutenant becomes a general. It requires a lot of skill, and not a little luck as well. However, the goal is apparent and so is the path to get there.

This is not the case in most of EVE. A new player, perhaps attracted by stories of 9-4 or B-R, downloads EVE. They want to command fleets of Titans, to hold the fate of empires in their hands. But most of the time, there’s no obvious path towards it. They can take fleets out, sure. But they can’t necessarily know the impact of their efforts. It is a little random.

Eve University [E-UNI] is one organization which averts this. They have a Fleet Command Course, with ranks and a structured mentorship process. They also tend to turn new players into effective FCs reliably. It might seem overly bureaucratic, but it does provide effectively for new players.

By providing clear paths for progression to new players, new blood can be let into EVE organizations. It means that new players can find a way forward, and that old players don’t rely on old boy’s clubs to find talent.

It may be impractical. It is idealistic. But it is something which, I think, is worth having.